LONDON: Asylum seekers have launched a group legal action against the British government over allegations of unlawful detention between 2014 and 2017.
Members of the group, which includes Sudanese and Iranian victims of torture, have demanded compensation after they were arrested and detained by the UK Border Force under Home Office guidance and the Dublin III regulation, which states that refugees must claim asylum in the first EU country in which they arrive.
The Dublin III regulation used to justify the deportations can be used only if there is a significant risk of the asylum seeker absconding and if their deportation is proportionate.
The claimants include an Iranian national arrested as a political prisoner and tortured in his home country, and a Sudanese national who was arrested and tortured following charges of loyalty to an opposition party.
Their lawyer Waleed Sheikh, from London firm Leigh Day, said: “Many of our clients are vulnerable individuals who were forced to flee their countries not out of choice, but due to the most horrific experiences which most of us in the UK will fortunately never witness, let alone experience.
Sheikh added: “Having made the brave and perilous journey from across the world, in the hope of finding safety and a secure future in a free country, they were instead put into detention centers.”
He said it is likely that thousands of other asylum seekers in Britain are entitled to make similar claims, “but it is difficult to trace them. Some are now abroad and many do not speak English. And there is no obligation for the Home Office to contact those who were held illegally.”
The Home Office may have to pay between £8,000 ($10,400) and £10,000 for each month a claimant was held.
The payouts could increase based on factors such as a claimant’s health during unlawful detention.
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “The individuals in question were only detained to facilitate removal to a safe European country. We took immediate corrective action in March 2017 to ensure that we remain able to detain those in a similar position, who we determine are at risk of absconding.”